Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
Alternate title: Evil Angels
Australia/USA, 1988. Cannon Entertainment, Golan-Globus Productions, Cinema Verity, Evil Angels Films, Warner Bros.. Screenplay by Robert Caswell, Fred Schepisi, based on the novel Evil Angels by John Bryson. Cinematography by Ian Baker. Produced by Verity Lambert. Music by Bruce Smeaton. Production Design by Wendy Dickson, George Liddle. Costume Design by Bruce Finlayson. Film Editing by Jill Bilcock. Academy Awards 1988. Cannes Film Festival 1989. Golden Globe Awards 1988. New York Film Critics Awards 1988.
Meryl Streep is astounding as real-life murder suspect Lindy Chamberlain, a woman accused of murdering her baby girl after she claims to have seen a dingo (Australian wild dog) steal the child from her tent on a camping trip near Ayer’s Rock. The film follows the debacle that occurs at home and in public court as a nation believes a dog over a grieving mother because she opts, in her desire to keep her grief private, to present a put-together, sometimes off-puttingly cold image of herself on television. Her and her husband’s strong beliefs in their little-known Christian denomination of Seventh Day Adventists is used against them when the nation decides to view them as crackpot cult leaders, and the media loses no time in playing up to these assumptions. The fact that the court cannot come up with a good enough motive, hard evidence or even a body never seems to matter in this particular case, nor does it deter the jury from condemning her. This drama is a searing indictment of human assumption and our viewpoints on female morality, not to mention the faultiness of the public courtroom, and it tackles the case brilliantly from all possible angles even when it seems slanted in favour of the subject.